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British GT Silverstone 500 round-up

GT3 victory for Barwell Motorsport's Sandy Mitchell and Adam Balon while Newbridge Motorsport pairing of Matt Topham and Darren Turner claimed GT4 honours in the Championship's blue riband event.


Pic Ian Cutting (I&L Photography)

GT3

Starting the Silverstone 500 from pole, Balon made it into Copse in the lead of a pack of some 21 GT3 machines. At Club on the first lap, James Cottingham and Richard Neary cam together and the unfortunate Ian Loggie was court up in the aftermath and was forced to retire.


Alex Malykhin was hounding Balon and soon made his move for the lead just after the 5 min mark but was a bit too eager, making contact with the Lamborghini, and subsequently handed a stop-go for the excessive nature of it.


Meanwhile Alex West and his McLaren 720s of guest entry Garage 59 had made ground from P10 on the grid to run behind Balon, helped by the lap 1 disaster for Team Abba, 2 Seas and RAM Racing Mercedes-AMGs. Just behind though was Morgan Tillbrook's Enduro McLaren who made quick work passing those in front before challenging West. Once Tillbrook had passed West he soon got onto the back of Balon's Lamborghini but stout defending meant he couldn't pass and take the lead.


Balon though handed driving duties over to Mitchell on the 45 minutes mark and while nearly a lap down on the rest of the pack, he was in amongst the Am drivers and lapping faster than those around him. This did mean that Balon would be against Marvin Kirchhoefer while West would be racing against Mitchell in the last stint. The pace of the both Pro and Ams set up a great final stint with the Lamborghini just ahead of the McLaren.


For the last 30 mins of the race the McLaren was slightly faster, setting a new lap record in the process, but for all the speed, Kirchhoefer couldn't find a way past Mitchell. There was a glimmer of a chance on the final tour of the Silverstone circuit but Mitchell hung on and claimed the victory just 0.5s ahead of the McLaren.


The last podium place should have gone to Enduro Motorsport, but with the fire extinguisher going off during the last pit stop and being disqualified for completing 70% distance without their mandatory driver changes.


This meant this last place on the podium went to Optimum Motorsport in their one-off entry McLaren. Joe Osborne and Nick Moss ran long before changing and ran an uneventful race while others around them fall foul of various penalties.


GT3 race winner #72 Barwell Motorsport. Pic Lisa Lynch (I&L Photography)

GT4

Richard Williams and his Steller Motorsport Audi got away from pole, but was kept honest by Will Burns, Josh Miller and Marco Signoretti in the respective BMW, Aston Martin and Ford Mustang. Contact though between Williams and Miller sent the Audi spinning and earned Miller a 10s stop-go penalty.


Signoretti lost touch with the leaders after being caught up a GT3 tangle while Jordan Collard in his Toyota looked likely to be up near the front suffered a rear puncture that put them out of contention for the lead.


Coming out of all the melee was Burns in his BMW out in front. Steller Motorsport pitted early after their contact and were now out of sync with the rest of the GT4 pack. This did though mean that at their final stint they would be on fresh tyres and low fuel load.


The top 3 were all running long opening stints but as a Pro-Am pairing Topham and Turner were against Silver Cup pairings and this all changed the order at the pit-stops.


As a Pro-Am pairing their pitstops are 14s shorter the Silver crews and with Turner now in the car he was able to take advantage of this on his long stint. The Newbridge Aston Martin took the lead just as the last hour ticked over. Topham took over driving duties and kept it neat and tidy against fellow Silver Cup drivers to give Turner a chance of victory in the last stint as he emerged for his last driving duties.


Burns and Jack Brown in the Century Motorsport BMW M4 looked likely to finish P2 but were hit with a 40s post race penalty for causing a collision which ultimately dropped them out of contention.


Despite the early off for the Steller Audi and being out of sync with the rest of the field, it all came together in the end. Sennan Fielding was P4 and challenging Matthew Grahame's Valluga Porsche and finally made his move at Vale and into P3. This soon became P2 with the penalty to the Century BMW. Wylie and Grahame also benefitted from the penalty to claim the final podium.

GT4 race winner #27 Newbridge Motorsport. Pic Ian Cutting (I&L Photography)

The championship continues at Donington Park for another 3 hour race on May 28th-29th.

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